Catie Spink of the TSP Residential Property team explains. In 2008 the government introduced new regulations for people wishing to pave over their front gardens.

Serious flooding in 2007 caused loss of life, disruption of people’s lives and damage estimated at about 3 billion pounds. In many cases flooding happened because drains could not cope with the amount of rain water flowing to them.

The effects of climate change mean that this kind of heavy rainfall event and flooding may occur more often in the future.

Although paving over one or two gardens may not seem likely to make a difference, the combined effect of lots of people in a street or area doing this can increase the risk of flooding.

According to the Government’s Planning Portal “You will not need planning permission if a new or replacement driveway of any size uses permeable (or porous) surfacing which allows water to drain through, such as gravel, permeable concrete block paving or porous asphalt, or if the rainwater is directed to a lawn or border to drain naturally.

If the surface to be covered is more than five square metres, planning permission will be needed for laying impermeable driveways that do not provide for the water to run to a permeable area.”

The Portal goes on to describe what constitutes a permeable surface as follows:

  • Loose gravel – A driveway sub-base covered by a surface layer of gravel or shingle
  • Hard permeable and porous surfaces – Hard surfacing which allows water to soak into it can be built with porous asphalt, porous concrete blocks, concrete or clay block permeable paving

If you decide to proceed with an impermeable surface on an area more than five metres square, planning permission will be required. The Portal also contains information on some additions that it may be useful to consider as follows:

  • Rain gardens – This is a relatively new concept in the UK but they are widely used in the USA. An area of garden is formed into a rain garden which is used to collect and store rainwater running from traditional impermeable surfaces (asphalt, concrete and block paving), before slowly allowing it to soak into the ground or to flow to the drains
  • Soakaways – These are similar to rain gardens except that water is piped into a gravel-filled trench or special container and allowed to soak into the ground
  • Wheel tracks – To keep hard surfaces to a minimum a driveway can be created that has just two paved tracks where the wheels go. The area between and around the tracks can be surfaced in gravel or planted with grass or suitable low growing plants. Water must drain from the tracks into the surrounding permeable area

Finally if you need to drop the kerb in order to gain access to the paved area you will need to obtain permission from the local council to do so and the pavement may need strengthening. This is to protect any services buried in the ground such as water pipes. More detail about this and many other planning requirements can be found on the Planning Portal website.

For advice on Residential Property matters Catie can be contacted on 01255 254258 or by email on